Preparations for the 59th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) to be held next month have gathered pace with the organisation having written to President Emmerson Mnangagwa inviting him to officially open the showcase in Bulawayo.
Namibian President Hage Geingob officially opened last year's edition of the ZITF.
This comes as more countries that used to exhibit at the trade extravaganza have indicated interest to exhibit this year from the 24th to the 28th of April.
In written responses, the ZITF Company general manager, Ms Nomathemba Ndlovu, said the overwhelming responses from exhibitors saw the company increasing exhibition space from 48 400 square metres last year to 51 400 this year.
This year's edition of the ZITF runs under the theme "Sustainable Industrial Development -- Inclusive, Competitive and Collaborative".
"His Excellency Cde Emmerson D. Mnangagwa has been invited to officiate at this year's show," she said.
"The marketing and sales campaign for the show has reached its peak and market response has been quite pleasing.
"Because of overwhelming demand, we have increased the amount of space being used for exhibition purposes from 48 400 square metres in 2017 to 51 400 this year. Of this, 87 percent has been booked to date.
"In terms of exhibitor number, there are 359 direct exhibitors compared to 266 at the same time last year, reflecting a 40 percent increase.
"We have also seen an increase in the number of new exhibitors as 18 percent of the 359 direct exhibitors who have confirmed participation will be participating for the first time. This is, to us pleasing because it is indicative of an improved trading environment and commitment to reengage with the international community."
To date, 11 foreign countries have booked space including Botswana, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia, while Cyprus and India will be represented by individual companies from the respective countries.
The ZITF Company has since last year been engaged in meetings with diplomats based in Zimbabwe and representing target countries from SADC, South America, Asia and previously dormant markets such as Europe and North America for them to participate in the trade show.